Medical expenses around the world are expected to continue to rise next year, and cancer is the leading cause of medical costs, a report said.
Kim Hye-ran, a researcher at the Korea Insurance Research Institute (KIRI), summarized the “2019 Global Medical Trends Survey Report” by Willis Towers Watson.
According to the survey on 307 insurance companies in 77 countries, the ratio of medical expense to GDP per capita will be 7.6 percent in 2019, 0.5 percent higher than the reported value of 7.1 percent for 2018.
By region, Brazil (15.3 percent), China, (10.7 percent), India (10.6 percent) and Mexico (11.4 percent) will see medical costs spike, the report said. The Middle East and Africa will face the fastest increase in medical expenses, it said.
The largest contributor to the increase in medical costs was “the rise of pharmaceutical costs (80 percent).” Excessive services and treatments by medical staffs (70 percent) and new medical technologies (65 percent) came next.
By the type of disease, cancer will be the leading cause of medical cost growth, the report said.
About 79 percent of the insurers around the world blamed cancer for major medical expenses, and 59 percent, cardiovascular diseases, and 50 percent, musculoskeletal disease.
The insurers picked diabetes, endocrine diseases, nutritional and metabolic diseases, as the diseases expected to bring more insurance claims in the next five years.
In the American region, the Middle East, and Africa, insurance claims concerning the diseases have risen, both in incidence and costs.
Based on the outlook, Kim said the government should take a preemptive response to cancer and cardiovascular diseases, to reduce medical costs.
“To reduce medical expenses, we have to pay attention to the top three diseases that are expected to raise healthcare costs,” Kim said. “In addition to cancer, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases, diabetes, mental illness, and behavioral disorders are also driving up medical costs. We need a preemptive measure and investment to prevent such diseases.”